Temporary & Eternal Means

November 15, 2001

Divine modes or manifestations are natural, beyond the so-called natural sciences and human philosophy, because they are spiritual, and coexist with the God of nature in absolute Science.

Miscellany, by Mary Baker Eddy

Our topic, referring to a phrase in Science and Health (see readings, page 444) indicates our desire to explore how Christian Science and regular medical procedures interact. Of course, the area of concern could be expanded to all seeming material happenings, but we stuck pretty close to our knitting on this one and did manage to find some hints of the Science of medicine.

Members mentioned last week that they were concerned about a tendency in their own thought and that of other students of Christian Science to condemn those who avail themselves of materia medica. Mrs. Eddy and her church do not condone such disdain, but we felt it's still operative as a strong impediment to healing and indeed to the whole salvation of mankind. It needs to be faced down, but not by human will, which of course is also detrimental to the practice of Science. Then how?

We agreed on this: it is essential to understand that all healing is spiritual, since it reflects the perfection of Being. For a student of Christian Science to give any power to dualism or matter is idolatry. There is no shirking of Science to understand that Eternal Means are the only temporary ones.

One member outlined the position of a U.S. soldier who is also a Christian Scientist. If illness occurs, he must undergo medical treatment, since the government owns his body. This need not deprive him of the healing power of Science; his dependency simply has to be kept on God throughout whatever diversions the medical staff provide. The bottom line is allegiance to God as the only cause and effect.

One member sees sin, sickness and death as temporary means we use in an attempt to recover from mortality. Mrs. Eddy calls them the popular gods (Science and Health, p. 347: 23-25). As these fail to deliver their hoped-for good, we break with the fictive life that supports them and discover the eternal, always at hand.

Working in Science for others who are undergoing medical treatment is controversial. Many Christian Scientists today won't do it, whether based on fear or just habit. Apparently Mrs. Eddy and some of her students — particularly James Neal — loved to take on hospital cases. For those of us who want to do this type of work, we came up with a few conclusions.

1) We must understand we're working on our own thoughts and feelings to arrive at that place where we can surrender beliefs and sense testimony in favor of spiritual understanding and Soul-sense.

2) We cannot allow ourselves to be jerked around by medical data and prognostications, whether pro or con. "I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down; why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?"(Nehemiah 6:3)

3) Bad side effects from drugs and procedures must be seen through, not given any credence. This is a particularly devilish area for Christian Scientists who might want to climb aboard any diatribe about the evils of medicine. Forget it: there is only one Medicine and it's God. Where then is the evil?

4) A "practitioner's stance"is perhaps more needed here than in usual cases. It requires complete disbelief in a patient's problem. Or even better — complete disbelief that there is a patient or a practitioner!

5) Every material procedure can be translated into an idea rooted in Science. For instance, a medically induced reduction and elimination of a tumor might be seen thus: "A spiritual idea has not a single element of error, and this truth removes properly whatever is offensive."(Science and Health, p. 463:12)

Some members have had remarkable Christian Science healings while under medical care.

1) One underwent a probe to locate and identify a mass which had shown up in earlier tests. As another member waited for him to help him get home, he thought he might do some scientific thinking about the situation. The word "diagnosis"popped into thought. He saw it as a dualistic concept and wondered what it might be mimicking in divine Mind. He knew the word came from the Greek word "gnosis"meaning knowledge. Immediately the made-up word "monagnosis"presented itself: yes the one Knowledge, God, was knowing/seeing/being Himself as all — the so-called patient, doctor and nurses. The realization was vivid and the patient soon emerged, with a clean bill of health, followed by dumbfounded medical attendants.

2) Another has long given alarm to his doctor — but not to himself — over heightened levels of triglycerides. Both have recently been amazed at the sharp reduction in these elements. All he can figure is that this decline has tracked his attendance and participation in the Healing Singing Group and our own group, both meeting at the LGBT Center.

3) Another member told of the sudden elimination of infection after repeated unsuccessful root canal insertions and x-rays once he applied Science and translated x-rays into Christ-rays, God seeing Himself only.

A couple of interesting points came up near the end of the meeting.

1) Is conviction necessary to healing? Some members felt it is while others saw it as no more than a device of mortal mind, hyping itself up. Mrs. Eddy uses the word both ways. See Science and Health, p. 494:18, and p. 108:1, for instance.

2) What if healing does not come? One member recalled a spiritual healer saying failure to heal may come from a desire to hold on to the illness for whatever reason. Perhaps one has built his or her whole life and sense of identity around the pains of and accommodations to an illness. The healer also allowed that one's karma might be to suffer through a life of illness and agony. Of course Christian Science could theoretically dispel the illness no matter the seeming cause. But let's be clear, if one sees it as his meal ticket or his fate to be ill, it might take some committed work just to get the patient to turn towards the healing Christ. Perhaps the treatment reserved for sin — or certainly human will — might be necessary.

What of our own deeply entrenched resistance to healing, whether based on fate, archetypes, genetics, child abuse or whatever? Do we need to investigate these and confront them? Or transcend? Or both? A topic for the future.

Meanwhile, we'll observe our tradition next week of reading the Thanksgiving Lesson from the Christian Science Quarterly and sharing testimonies of gratitude. (The Thanksgiving Bible Lesson can be read on-line at Spirituality.com).

The Bible

Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had. And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me. Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked:

And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, Came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched. And Jesus said, Who touched me? When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?

And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.

Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ancle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.

Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy

If Christian Scientists ever fail to receive aid from other Scientists,—their brethren upon whom they may call,—God will still guide them into the right use of temporary and eternal means. Step by step will those who trust Him find that "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."

When the sick recover by the use of drugs, it is the law of a general belief, culminating in individual faith, which heals; and according to this faith will the effect be. Even when you take away the individual confidence in the drug, you have not yet divorced the drug from the general faith. The chemist, the botanist, the druggist, the doctor, and the nurse equip the medicine with their faith, and the beliefs which are in the majority rule. When the general belief endorses the inanimate drug as doing this or that, individual dissent or faith, unless it rests on Science, is but a belief held by a minority, and such a belief is governed by the majority.

The myriad forms of mortal thought, made manifest as matter, are not more distinct nor real to the material senses than are the Soul-created forms to spiritual sense, which cognizes Life as permanent. Undisturbed amid the jarring testimony of the material senses, Science, still enthroned, is unfolding to mortals the immutable, harmonious, divine Principle, —is unfolding Life and the universe, ever present and eternal.

Let the perfect model be present in your thoughts instead of its demoralized opposite. This spiritualization of thought lets in the light, and brings the divine Mind, Life not death, into your consciousness.

Being is holiness, harmony, immortality.

Miscellany, by Mary Baker Eddy

Material theories tend to check spiritual attraction—the tendency towards God, the infinite and eternal—by an opposite attraction towards the temporary and finite.

The Christian, however, strives for the spiritual; he abides in a right purpose, as in laws which it were impious to transgress, and follows Truth fearlessly.

To live so as to keep human consciousness in constant relation with the divine, the spiritual, and the eternal, is to individualize infinite power; and this is Christian Science.

It is of less importance that we receive from mankind justice, than that we deserve it. Most of us willingly accept dead truisms which can be buried at will; but a live truth, even though it be a sapling within rich soil and with blossoms on its branches, frightens people. The trenchant truth that cuts its way through iron and sod, most men avoid until compelled to glance at it. Then they open their hearts to it for actual being, health, holiness, and immortality.

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